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Researched by: Rachel John, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
We have launched exclusive video explainers on YouTube, hosted by our editor Lakshmi Chaudhry.
Our first video looks at the seemingly never ending war in Gaza. What is the endgame for Israel? What will postwar Gaza look like? The answers to the present lie in the past—dating all the way back to the Ottoman empire. Also: a map of a ‘new’ Middle East waved around by Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN.
Check it out below. And stay tuned for more such explainers on the big fat election coming soon. So be sure to hit the notification button.
PS: this is also a great way to share splainer with your friends and family—especially anyone who is kinda text-averse :)
The context: PM Modi’s innocuous tweet praising the “stunning beauty” of Lakshadweep islands triggered a tsunami of hate from Maldive ministers and bureaucrats. Their tourism minister condemned the vitriol—and three deputy ministers were suspended for calling Modi a “clown”, “terrorist” and a “puppet of Israel”.
What happened now: The government summoned the high commissioner in Delhi to express its displeasure. More striking was a ‘spontaneous’ #ExploreIndianIslands campaign on social media. Everyone from Salman Khan to Akshay Kumar and Hardik Pandya urged everyone to be Indian, vacay Indian—often sharing the same photo of Lakshadweep. More amusing were the celebs who got it wrong—like bechara Ranveer Singh who shared a photo from Maldives instead. If it’s any consolation, cabinet minister Kiren Rijiju made the exact same mistake:
Also caught fudging facts: Mint—which reported that Indians have cancelled “over 8,000 hotel bookings & 2,500 flight tickets to Maldives.” When asked to id the source, the newspaper quietly took out the feku data. Then again, why wait for travellers to do the right thing when EaseMyTrip can do it for you. The platform declared it is suspending all flights to Maldives. Jai Hind!
A good related read: Researcher Joyojeet Pal’s thread on the nexus between the government and celebrities.
At the outset of the pandemic, health agencies around the world recommended the use of anti-malarial drug HCQ to treat Covid. In India, the health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) did not change their recommendation for months—despite rising concerns about fatalities from the drug. A new study has now confirmed the suspicions of health experts. It links HCQ to an excess of 16,890 deaths among patients during the first wave in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the US—where reliable data was available. The Telegraph has more on how they calculated that number.
The greatly desired management degree may be losing some of its sheen. According to an Economic Times report, companies are less willing to pay a premium for MBAs—especially since there is a glut of degree-holders:
With over 230,000 MBAs entering the job market every year, just holding the qualification is not potentially a competitive advantage now. Skill specialisation is now the word for business and non-business grads alike.
The number of LinkedIn job openings—entry and mid-junior—that require a minimum MBA degree has dropped by 55% compared to last year. (Economic Times)
The ‘Love/Marriage Survey 2023’ found that one-third of all Japanese singles under the age of 50 have never gone on a single date. Also: 25% of the respondents have no intention of ever getting married. Most interesting bit is this:
Among the respondents in their 20s, 19.4% of women and 23.7% of men said having a romantic relationship is a waste of time and money… Among men of all age groups who do not want to marry, the top reason, given by 42.5%, was the financial strain of married life. As for women, 40.5% said they do not want to compromise their freedom and independence.
Kyodo News has more details.
Hollywood came out in style—to celebrate surviving the writers and actors strikes. There was zero mention of unpleasant matters like Gaza—contrary to the Globes tradition for political statements. Last year, Volodomyr Zelensky made a guest appearance. Hollywood Reporter has the complete list of winners. Vogue put together a comprehensive red carpet gallery.
Nolan’s big day: The biggest winner of the evening: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’—which bagged five awards. Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr went home with a shiny trophy. Our fave acceptance speech of the lot was made by a lipstick-faced Murphy:
Not a Barbie world: The movie was left on the sidelines for the most part—except for a win in a strange new category called ‘cinematic and box office achievement’. Guess we’re now honouring movies for merely making pots of money. Emma Stone edged out Margot Robbie for Best Actress in the comedy category.
Making history: Lily Gladstone became the first Native American actor to win the best actress Globe for Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’. She fittingly began her speech by speaking the Blackfeet language.
Most predictable winner: ‘Succession’ which swept four awards. Kieran Culkin started his acceptance speech by dissing his fellow nominee Pedro Pascal:
Best red carpet moment: belonged to Gillian Anderson and her ‘yoni’ gown. We’ll let her explain that one to you:)
Taylor’s not-so-happy moment: The evening was hosted by comedian Jo Koy who spectacularly bombed. But he did a land a joke at Taylor’s expense—and she was not amused:
Always a delight: The bromance between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck which is alive and thriving:
The annual Computer Electronics Show is where companies show off their latest and greatest. They can be standard stuff—like Nvidia’s latest line of chips for AI tech. Or really cool and fun things—which interest us far more. Cnet and The Verge have lots more.
A very fancy toilet: Kohler debuted its PureWash Bidet Seat with Google and Alexa built-in. It doesn’t look like much, but here’s why it’s really special:
It’s heated, has adjustable temperatures and water pressure, and comes in white or black to match your bathroom style. It also features voice activation via Amazon’s Alexa or the Google Assistant. You can use your voice to command the spray pressure and the air dryer—it has a dryer!
What would you say: ‘Alexa, dry my ass’? Hmm.
Gamers’ BFF: HP’s new Omen Transcend gaming has a “bright-as-hell rainbow LED keyboard”—and apparently works very well—according to Gizmodo:
A transparent TV! LG unveiled the world’s first wireless transparent OLED TV—which is called Signature OLED T (T for transparent). You can say goodbye to that massive, black, screen in the middle of your living room. When turned off, the TV blends with the background—“creating an illusion of your room looking larger than it would with a regular screen.” See the promo vid below:
In other tech news: Apple began making payments in a class action lawsuit that claimed it deliberately slowed down certain iPhones in the US. This dates back to 2017 when the company argued that as batteries performed poorly as they aged—and the "slowdown" helped lengthen the phones' lifespan. Except they didn’t bother telling customers. (BBC News)
Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev has accused the auction house of tricking him into overpaying for 38 artworks—allegedly incurring a loss of around €1 billion. According to the lawsuit, art broker Yves Bouvier who “assisted in acquiring the works, had cheated them by buying the works himself for one price and charging them another price—millions or tens of millions of dollars higher.” Rybolovlev has settled his case against Bouvier—but insists Sotheby’s “aided and abetted Bouvier in committing fraud and breaching his fiduciary duties.” A New York court has ruled it must face fraud charges for sales of four works: Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvador Mundi,’ the Amedeo Modigliani sculpture ‘Tête’, Gustav Klimt’s ‘Wasserschlangen II’ and Rene Magritte’s ‘Le Domaine d’Arnheim’.
Why this matters:
Regardless of outcome, the trial is expected to provide a rare window into the inner, often secretive workings of the art trade, where even buyers seldom know from whom they are purchasing treasures worth a small fortune. “This case is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to what do we do in the art market in terms of conflicting loyalties and transparency,” said [art market lawyer] Nicholas O’Donnell.
The Guardian has more on the case.
One: A giant bluefin tuna sold for nearly $800,000 (¥114.2 million) at Tokyo’s biggest fish market on the first day of business in 2024. It will be served to patrons of the chi-chi sushi restaurant Onodera in the Ginza district. FYI: This is hardly a record for tuna auctions. In 2019, the going price was a record $2.3 million (¥333.6 million). As you can see, it’s a very large fish. (Bloomberg News via Japan Times)
Two: Here’s an adorable story out of Wales. A photographer and retired postman noticed that someone was tidying up his work bench every night. So he set up a night vision camera to catch this neat freak in action. Sorry, you will have to watch the vid for the awesome reveal:) (The Guardian)
Three: Zeenat Aman is slated as the guest in the next Koffee With Karan episode—sharing the couch with Neetu Kapoor. Watch the fun promo below. The episode drops on Thursday on Disney+ Hotstar.
The govt’s notion of surrogacy is rooted in marriage and discriminates against single mothers, queer couples.Read More
The fascinating and controversial claims surrounding the ruins of the ancient city of Dwarka.Read More